Shepherd Moon, Chapter 29: Endgame, Two – Detterex
An Engineered Escape –
By the time the Tiros Emperor capitulated, they had long since finished interrogation of all the captured Detterex spies onboard Colossus, all at the hands of the Earthers.
By that time, all the information they would ever get from the spies they already had, and they discovered a few things: first was that the individuals they had captured were not really part of a coordinated espionage operation, that they were only employed by individuals that needed specific information from the Federation; second was that the individuals that they selected were not specially trained or anything like that – they were selected because they were “throwbacks” – that is to say, they had the look, the sound, and the height of regular Elyrans; third was that the Detterex had no organized way to extract these individuals – these spies were to use their own efforts to make their own way back home.
Colossus security was a little disappointed, actually, since they didn’t get much. These were basically run-of-the-mill Detterex citizens pressed into espionage work- useless as security resources.
And these spies weren’t really great spies, really, since in all this time they hadn't really collected much information: although they were able to gather information about the “Battle of Pluto,” the “Battle of “Saturn,” the “Attack on Colossus,” the “Invasion of Earth” and the “Invasion of Elyra” – names of events that will go down in the Federation’s history books – they weren’t able to get much else.
But even if they did, it didn’t really matter, since they were yet to report in to their masters, and now it looks like they wouldn't be able to anymore.
The detectors initially designed by Mia’s team was much improved, and the individual Elyran governments had them secretly installed in all Elyran planets, colonies and ships. In the following months, a few more spies were found, mostly in the population centers and ships controlled by the Northern Kingdom, and eventually, the government felt confident enough to declare that all Detterex spies had been identified and captured. They did, however, maintain vigilance to prevent more spies from infiltrating Elyran society.
As usual, Mia had an idea on how to make use of these “useless” spies, and hopefully avert a tragedy similar to what befell the Tiros Empire.
The first thing that they did was to give them full physicals prior to being sent to Elyra Prime for further interrogation (the prisoners “overheard” this from their keepers).
What they didn’t know was that, during the exam, a few of them were implanted with “passive” Phase-Wave transponders.
Each was the size of an old-style “penny,” but were as thin and flexible as a piece of plastic from a grocery bag. These were implanted into their chest wall, just over the ribs and below the muscle. After a year or so, these devices would dissolve.
Second was that they were going to be transported to Elyra via an automated Telcontari mail courier ship, all under the eagle-eyed attention of supposedly incompetent Telcontari security.
Courier ships were small, fast interstellar ships that had crews of only four or five, and all they were meant to do was to ship messages between planets.
Along with the prisoners, a confidential packet, as well as a lot of standard mail destined for Elyra would be loaded onto the ship, and after the prisoners were transferred, they were sat in acceleration couches, with manacled wrists.
The spies patiently waited for the crew to come in, but after over half an hour of waiting, the Telcontari pilot finally got fed up. He unbuckled and stepped out of the ship in search of his crew.
The prisoners waited for over an hour, and, eventually, they got the idea of escaping. They laughed at the Telcontari for putting them in manacles but not securing the manacles to anything. That meant they could actually move around inside the ship’s cabin.
They found it easy to close the main hatch, and, looking at the simplified controls, knew what to do to run the ship. They saw the breakaway safety gates in front of them, and started activating the ship’s sublight engines.
The little courier ship blasted through the breakaway gate and roared away from Colossus.
The police launches that were always patrolling the outside of the station took up the chase. But the prisoners had opened the courier ship’s engines to maximum. The police had no hope of catching them. Several ships started prepping to follow but, because it was a courier ship, it was able to transition quickly to FTL. And it was already flying too fast by the time other ships were ready to give chase.
Back in Colossus, Pinpin, Mumu, Mia, O’Connell and Tasha had a good laugh as the courier ship’s “pilot” recounted what had happened. It was Chi-Chi, the now-head of the Office of Protocol that masqueraded as the pilot.
“I was actually afraid that they were going to wait for me to return,” he said. “They stayed there for half an hour! How could they not take the opportunity to escape!” They laughed again.
“Well,” Tasha said, “we Elyrans are renowned for our patience, after all…”
That triggered another bout of laughter.
It was easy to track the former prisoners. Phase-Wave, as well as the transponders, worked beautifully, and the Earthers tracked them easily.
Phase-Wave tracking also showed that the courier ship, after decelerating to ship-maneuverable speeds, rendezvoused with a Detterex cruiser. After that, the courier ship accelerated back into FTL. A few days later, an Elyran colonial outpost reported an explosion on one of the planets in their system. Fragments of the courier ship were found and this was reported immediately to Elyra and Colossus care of a Phase-Wave relayed radio message.
Collosus security thought it a little suspicious since the colony was only in the general direction of Elyra (as seen from Colossus); “general” meant a deviation of at least a couple of light years. They could actually be going away from Elyra.
But Mia and her people, which included Pinpin, Mumu and Chi-Chi, thought that was actually fine. The transponders were working, and they were tracking their spies quite closely.
Once they saw that their spies had reached a planet that the Federation knew as “Detterex-1543,” they knew that their planted information had finally been delivered.
All the material in the “mail” was factual and real, even the reports about Detterex. What wasn’t was the special sealed packet addressed to the queen.
That special packet was supposedly a summary of EarthForce’s resources and strengths. In it, the packet of information said that the entire EarthForce fleet was made up of over a thousand capital ships plus various other support craft. That made their fleet almost the same size as the combined Federation fleet.
It also said that Earth had thirty colony worlds, but mostly out in the unmapped portions of the Galactic Arm (naturally), with planetary defenses as powerful and sophisticated as the mother planet’s.
There was also a “psychological profile” of the Terran Race in the packet, and the profile spoke of their implacable resolve and their unforgiving nature, that their nature was basically violent, even though they try and control it.
It spoke of their need to win at any cost. It sounded, curiously, like the profile of the Tirosians, except that they didn’t have slaves in their society because their violent natures precluded that.
All in all, it painted a very terrifying picture.
In the final part of the report, it spoke of the Earthers’ disappointment that the Tirosians did not put up a fight worthy of them, and that they were hoping that the Detterex would be a little different.
“Now, if that doesn’t have the Detterex shaking in their boots,” Mia was telling O’Connell, “I don’t know what will.”
A few weeks later, the information had started to make the rounds in Detterex Prime.
In the halls of the Detterex Senate, the empire’s rulers, and the Prime Minister, the Senate President, the Minister of War and the Queen and King of All Detterex were meeting.
They had discussed the various pieces of information that they retrieved from their spies, as well as the packets of mail that they got from the courier ship. Even without the “profile,” the rest of the information was very depressing, to say the least.
For the Queen and King, it was actually devastating.
It seemed that, because of the Earthers, their attacks on Earth, Colossus and Elyra were failures. They knew about Elyra already even before the spies arrived because of the “signal” that they'd received. It was actually the reason that the fleet had been recalled, and was now flying overhead.
They were a little disappointed that Tiros had fallen despite the overwhelming resources their former allies had at their fingertips. But then again, they were just Tirosians.
As for the Queen and King, they were devastated to hear that their two eldest daughters had perished. The “prime minister” of the Tiros Empire was actually their second-oldest daughter, and they couldn’t help think about her death at the hands of that vile Tirosian emperor.
As for Arvan, their oldest daughter and the heir apparent of the Empire, they were beyond tears to know that she and her husband perished at the hand of the Earther warrior princess. But from what they knew of the events, they thought that Arvan had died well - at the hand of a fellow royal and a worthy adversary. At least Arvan was able to engineer the death of the husband to Elyra’s heir apparent, and that meant that surely Tasha had perished by now. However, as they listened to the spies’ report, they learned that the Elyran princess was still alive, and, apparently, free of the madness.
The spies said that they couldn’t confirm it, but it was said that the Lady Tasha now had the Earther princess and her partner as her bridges.
But the Earthers were aliens. They were neither Detterex nor Elyran. How could they be bridges? Either the spies’ information was faulty or… Could they be the warriors of legend?
But the data from their other informants seem to corroborate the report, and confirmed that Lady Tasha was still in command of the Elyrans’ forces, and was still free of the madness.
What could it all mean? As far as everyone knew, no one had been rescued from the madness except in legend, whether Detterex or Elyran. And there had been no triumvirates since the time of the Messiah.
They called in their Minister of Information, and asked if the people they had just retrieved at great cost and effort were reliable.
The minister gulped. She knew that she could only answer in one way.
“Yes, Your Royal Highness,” she lied. “They are reliable. Our sleeper agents are top agents, and have been highly trained in espionage techniques. As you see, they were able to capture a ship on their own and were able to escape before being deported to Elyra. Yes, Your Highness, you can rely on their information.”
“I hope you are right, Minister,” the queen said.
The Minister of Information bowed and quickly retreated out of the room, lest she be asked other questions she’d rather not answer.
They looked at each other. It seemed they had no choice but to believe the information.
And if it was true, whatever was happening there in Colossus and on Elyra, it was something near-miraculous.
As to the information they found about the Earthers, it was so devastatingly overwhelming. The Earthers’ fleet was unmatched, and their “profile” was quite intimidating. What worried the queen was the last part of the report - that the Earthers were spoiling for a fight.
They then listened to the report regarding the events that had happened on Tiros. The report was totally factual, after all, but the figures were mind-boggling. Again, the Earthers had played a key part in the downfall of the Tirosians, and the death of over six billion. The one thing that was left out of the report was the fact that the casualties were mostly because of the mass suicide of the Tirosian race. By omitting that one fact, the deaths of the Tirosians were all due to the invasion of the Federation.
The report also said the emperor was still alive. Having heard that, the Queen commanded the Prime Minister to have a clandestine force be sent to Tiros Prime and have the emperor assassinated.
The remaining Tirosian fleet of about sixty capital ships were now orbiting the Tirosian gas giant, essentially abandoned, and they wondered about the “mutiny fleet” - where were these Tirosians now, and what was their ultimate objective?
The Minister of War wondered if they should keep their options open with regards these Tirosian mutineers, because sometime in the future, it might be useful to have them on their side.
The Senate President, Prime Minister and the King greeted this idea negatively. It seemed, in their minds, they were already thinking of the Earthers as the warriors of legend. The Queen agreed. So, whether they were correct or not, they weren’t throwing themselves with the rebel Tirosians.
What was now being called the “Mutiny Fleet” - the forty or so ships of the Tirosians that abandoned Tiros Prime – was being tracked easily by Earth’s CETI network, and no one was worrying about them for the moment.
As for Detterex and its almost-two hundred-strong fleet, this was also being tracked.
For the moment, it wasn’t a big concern since they remained in orbit around Detterex Prime, but decisions had to be made.
Shihayn was constantly in use at the moment – the Earthers had set up a large 3D display on its large, spinning dais, which showed the location of the “Mutiny Fleet” and the space surrounding Detterex, Tiros and Colossus. People would regularly come in and take notes. It was the best tool to picture the situation properly.
And, from time to time, when one of the delegates wanted to present a plan or alternative to the current emergency, the display would be removed and they could then present their proposal. There was at least one group presenting per day.
As for Aonta, there were back-to-back sessions happening. The morning was taken up by Colossus’ normal calendar, while the afternoons were dedicated to debates about the current crisis.
The Assembly was slowly zeroing in on a consensus, which currently was to refurbish the mothballed Tirosian fleet to supplement the force currently on its way back to Colossus for repairs and resupply. Once ready, they would then proceed to Detterex Prime in full force. If that was the decision, then they’d need the appropriate tactics given that the Detterex was totally different from the Tirosians, which presented different advantages and disadvantages. Unofficially, they were expecting Mia and the Earthers to take point on creating the strategy again.
The Dravidians magnanimously offered to do the refurbishing of the Tirosian fleet, saying their price would be reasonably low, but they were shouted down. Instead, it was suggested that the Arachnians take over the refit of the ships. That was because the Arachnians were considered to be the best when it came to intricate projects like this. The First Ambassador requested assistance in contacting Arachnia Prime to arrange for engineers to be transported to Tiros, and the Earth contingent offered the communications needed.
Jokingly, the Axons asked how much they would be charging, and everyone laughed. The First Ambassador pinwheeled his arms, laughing in his own way.
The Dravidians then pinged, and asked, seriously, what they would be charging.
A silence spread throughout the hall.
Equally seriously, the First Ambassador bowed towards the Dravidians, and replied to say that, since this was a crisis, they believed that it would be very inappropriate to actually charge the Federation. After all, what they would be doing was for the benefit of all the member races, and not to make a profit.
The Dravidians thanked the First Ambassador for their courteous answer and did not ask any further questions.
At the end of the day, the Erocii representative approached the First Ambassador. As it approached him, Mumu and Pinpin rushed over, and listened in on the conversation. As the Lord Chamberlains, it was their privilege to listen in to conversations between delegates that had to do with official Federation matters.
Embarrassed, the Erocii apologized for their Dravidian friends and said that they would like to offer their assistance. It explained that their motivations might be suspect so they are not offering manpower assistance. They couldn’t offer transportation assistance for the same reasons. So they decided to offer supplies and other materials that the Federation might need instead.
The First Ambassador expressed his gratitude and said that they would indeed accept their assistance.
The Erocii bowed and moved away.
Mumu and Pinpin wondered why they waited for the end of the session before making their offer, and the First Ambassador said it was to reduce the possibility of embarrassment for both the Dravidians and the Erocii.
But while that was all happening, someone, an Earther, rushed to Aonta looking for Nick. She eventually found him and handed him a long note as well as one of those four-by-four-by-four data cubes.
Nick pocketed the cube, tuned to the English version of the note and read it. After he finished it, he pressed one of the big call buttons on the wall.
Telcontari clerks came to Aonta and went to Nick, who was by then waving to them frantically.
He demanded that an emergency session be called now. He understood the repercussions for him and the Earth Mission, but he was prepared to pay the penalty, or to accept any punitive action the Lord Chamberlains might choose to apply.
Mumu and Pinpin were paged, and they rushed over.
Without saying anything, Nick handed to them the note, with the Elyran-translated version displayed, and the two read with growing shock and surprise. Pinpin went to the wall intercom and initiated the process of calling an emergency session in seventeen and a half minutes.
While she was doing this, Nick called Mia and O’Connell on his CC. He asked them to contact Jennifer over in CETI, and to get Tasha as well. Mia nodded and signed off.
Nick nodded to Mumu and Pinpin, handed over the data cube to be plugged into the speaker system, took the note back and went to the place assigned to the Earth Mission.
The rest of the Assembly slowly filed in, in small dribs and drabs, and Nick waited patiently.
Once the Assembly was complete, Mimi and Pinpin spoke, apologizing to everyone for being recalled, but said that the matter was quite important. They then invited Nick to speak.
Nick stood, and then bowed.
“My Lords, Ladies, and fellow delegates,” he began, “I would like to share with you a message that we received a little while ago.” He nodded to the Telcontari standing by the public speaker controls. They activated the recording, and the entire Assembly was assaulted by static from the speakers.
Nick had a serious case of déjà vu. This felt just like that time when Mia was still Bill, and he had just announced Phase-Wave at the U.N., and then shared with the world the first audio recording of an extraterrestrial conversation. But this time, it was he who was doing the announcing.
Soon, the static faded and was replaced by a voice.
“To the members of the Federation Council,” the voice said. “T’chahn.
“I am Sovann, Queen and Empress of the Detterex Empire. I have been apprised of the events that have transpired in Tiros Prime, and the fall of the Tiros civilization. I send my congratulations to the Federation for your victory over the vile Tirosians.
“I also extend to the people of the Earth my congratulations for becoming the newest members of the Galactic Federation of Free Races. And also for their victories, both at home and at Colossus. I say well met to a worthy adversary.
“I also send my greetings to the new Lords Chamberlain of Colossus – a magnificent achievement for such a young people. I know how proud their Telcontari brethren must be. Congratulations to you.
“I also extend my congratulations to Crown Princess Tasha Liaran-Kerr, and her people’s victory in her homeworld of Elyra. Though I could only wish the outcome was otherwise, nevertheless I say well met, and extend the hand of reconciliation.
“I must also express my sorrow at the Princess’ loss. Prince Ren Tevann-Reshanii-Kerr was a brilliant, resourceful, charming, and beautiful soul. I wish him well in his final journey.
“The past year has been a year of turmoil not just for the Federation but also for my Empire. The reason I send this message out is so that we may find a resolution and bring order once again to the Galactic Arm. In behalf of the Empire, I declare that the Detterex Empire surrenders to the Galactic Federation of Races, and would like to meet with representatives of the Federation to discuss terms of our surrender. In earnest of this, to show the seriousness of our resolve, a small flotilla of three disarmed capital cruisers, led by the Empire’s flagship, the Predator, shall be leaving Detterex Prime within the week, and shall make their way to Crystal Shoals, the planet at the center of known civilization.
“Onboard the Predator shall be my lady-in-waiting. She shall be carrying with her the Queen Mother’s Torch of Freedom, waiting to turn it over to a representative of the Federation. By turning over this precious symbol of peace, this precious relic of our civilization to the Federation, we show our sincerity and resolve.
“My people shall not be accompanied by other ships. If they are, we ask your assistance in removing them for they shall not be from the Detterex Empire.
“Once the Federation has been assured of our intentions, we would request to meet with the Lords Chamberlain of Colossus, representatives from the Council of Custodians, representatives from the Chamber of Migration and Peerage, the Keeper of the Heritage and his apprentice, the Elyran heir to the throne, Princess Tasha Liaran-Kerr and her Earther consorts, and representatives for the Earth Alliance.
“After which, be assured that I and my Royal Court shall be present, at a time and place of your choosing, under any conditions you specify. Together, we shall be empowered to commit my Empire to an agreement for the surrender of all Detterex to the Federation and the legendary Warrior Race.
“I send this message to you that I may save my people and empire from needless death and ruin, that we may be judged by the Great Ones as worthy. I, however, ask the assistance of the people of the Earth in sending out this message to the rest of my subjects. Attached to this message is my Imperial Seal so that my subjects can be assured of its authenticity, and that the Detterex Empire can act as one and show the Great Ones and the Warrior Race that we are worthy of their trust and their patronage.
“Until we meet, farewell.”
- Washington DC
- Mistress of Confusion
Bobbi Cabot is a transgender girl in her thirties (35 y.o. as of 2016), who transitioned in 2005. She is known as "Roberta J. Cabot," "Bobbie-C," "Bobbie," "Bobbi" and "Bobbi-C" in the sites where she posts her stories.
Though not a professional writer, Bobbi is under the delusion that she writes passably well and indulges this delusion by sometimes posting stories, which is, thankfully, very seldom.
Bobbi's day job (the phrase "day job" is hereby stressed) involves being the big cheese of the overseas BPO practice of a Top 100 computer technology corporation.